Medina tells village resident chickens have to go

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 9 August 2022 at 8:16 am

MEDINA – A village resident who has had chickens in her backyard for more than a decade – sharing the eggs with her neighbors – was told by village officials that the chickens have to be removed from the village.

Debbie Varley of Highland Avenue has about 20 chickens that are used by her grandchildren for 4-H. The chickens are popular in the neighborhood, and Varley shares their eggs with nearby residents.

However, one resident made a complaint to the village about the chickens, and village officials say they are obligated to insist the birds be removed.

Chickens are only allowed in the village if they are in an agricultural-residential district. The only AR zoned parcel in Medina includes the Gallagher barn property on North Gravel Road.

Varley is in a residential district, where the chickens aren’t allowed. She said she didn’t know chickens were banned from residential neighborhoods. She thought she was OK as long as she didn’t have roosters, which make a loud ruckus, especially in the morning.

“You’re an outstanding member of the community,” Village Trustee Tim Elliott said at Monday’s Village Board meeting. “I’m sorry we have to voice an opinion on it. But there is no gray area.”

Elliott said Varley likely was able to keep the chickens for many years because no one ever complained until recently. But once there is a formal complaint, the village has to look at the issue to see if the resident is in compliance with the village code.

Varley said many other people in the village also have chickens. But there haven’t been complaints about those chickens.

She is hopeful she can find someone to take the chickens who lives nearby so her grandchildren can continue to show them for 4-H.

“We’ve had them a long time,” she said. “We have a lot of time and money in them. They’re nice show birds. They are all named. I honestly didn’t know they weren’t allowed.”

(Editor’s Note: The person who called code enforcement and voiced concerns about the chickens called the Orleans Hub this afternoon and said he didn’t have a problem with the chickens in the person’s backyard. He was instead upset that the chickens’ fecal material was set out by the curb days in advance of the garbage pickup, smelling up the neighborhood. The person also said the issue bothered many of the neighbors, and he wasn’t the only one to complain to the village.)